YouTube Accessibility: How to Make Accessible Videos with Closed Captions
You want to know how to make videos on your website accessible and accessible videos you shall have. Let’s begin.
First, for the love of Apple Jacks, host your videos on YouTube.
YouTube (a Google company) has built-in subtitles that are REALLY, REALLY good. Like really good.
So good that 85% of your transcription work is already done for you.
Right away, this saves you time and dollar bills so take advantage of the best automatic transcription software in the world that happens to be 100% free.
Second, after you’ve uploaded your video to YouTube, go to its public page (the one where everyone can see the video) while logged into your company account. Click “Edit Video”.
Next, click “Other features” link inside the freshly opened edit dashboard.
A new subtab will open up and you’ll to select “Translation & transcription”.
Now you’ll want to click the “English (Automatic)” link. Don’t click the “Add new subtitles or CC” button unless you really don’t want to take advantage of YouTube’s automatic transcription.
Next, click the “edit” button.
And now we’re going to edit the existing subtitles so that they:
- are accurate
- in sync with the video
- include closed captioning.
Closed captioning is essentially subtitles (dialogue) combined with all other meaningful sounds in the video (e.g. laughter, door slamming).
Once you’ve made all of your edits, click the publish edits button.
After you click publish, go to the newly published public YouTube video page, click “share”.
Then select the “Embed” button.
And now grab updated embed code and copy and paste it into notepad (or directly into your website so that the newly updated video can be embedded into your website.
Note: This is an essential step. You
Finally, you’ll need to create a text transcript of the video and include this transcript directly the video on your website.
A transcript contains video dialogue along with any other pertinent information of what is happening in the video. Important information may include:
- Name and title of person
- Name of things (buildings, products, etc.)
- What is happening in the video
- The settings of the video
Every last detail of the video is not necessary but with a transcript you do want to make sure to describe the meaning and essence of the content in the video.
Also, transcript information should be in the same basic chronological order as the video (e.g. you don’t describe the ending of the video to begin the transcript).
ADA Compliance & Accessibility Notes
Beyond closed captioning and a transcript, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG 2.0 AA asks website owners to include a version of the video with an audio description.
An audio description version contains the video but with narration of non-audible things that are going on inside the video.
While this is indeed helpful to visually impaired users, the aspirational ask is practically burdensome in terms of both time and cost, so much so that it will result in videos being yanked from the web en masse.
The good news is the Web Accessibility Standards or WAS only requires closed captioning and a text transcript which provides access to both persons with visual and hearing impairments.
As the ADA Website Compliance legal landscape stands, you have flexibility in how you choose to make your website accessible so WAS is the best choice.
Video Transcripts vs. Web Design
When adding transcripts beneath your videos, the length of the transcript can dramatically affect the layout of your website.
The best option to remedy this is to include a descriptive text link for the transcript directly beneath the video. This text link should have an anchor text such as:
Click here for a transcript of the video
Once the link is clicked, the full transcript will show in a collapsible box
Non-YouTube Hosted Videos
Videos that are self-hosted or hosted on other platforms such as Vimeo will require more work in creating closed captions but the process will remain the same.
Accessibility on YouTube
For making videos accessible on YouTube, all you need to do is reference the text transcript in your video description (e.g. say “full transcript below” near the beginning of the description) and then paste the full transcript inside the description on the public YouTube page for your video.
Subtitles vs. Closed Captions
Subtitles merely convey the dialogue inside a video and are not enough, alone, to make a video accessible. Closed captions convey the dialogue and all important sounds such as laughter and doors slamming.
Accurate closed captions + a descriptive text transcript is the key to making your video accessible and ADA compliant.